Latvian infectologist expects officials to learn from past mistakes

Authorities and institutions in general should learn from past mistakes and be prepared for any potential new Covid-19 outbreaks, said P.Stradins Clinical University Hospital infectologist Uga Dumpis in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorāma.
Dumpis admits the spread of Covid-19 in Latvia remains high and there are still many Covid-19 patients remaining in hospitals, which creates a large pressure on healthcare. It is also important to keep in mind the infection index remains high for a whole week.
«The Delta variant remains a very serious problem,» the expert concluded.
Hospitals admit seniors more and more often. They are the main Covid-19 risk group. He also stressed that, unfortunately vaccination coverage in this group is not as high as it is in Denmark.
Dumpis explains that vaccinated residents who have recovered from Covid-19 should not worry too much about booster shots, as these people are more protected. Other residents should undergo primary Covid-19 vaccination and booster shots, which will help protect against them from Omicron variant.
The expert says medicine manufacturers are working on a polyvalent vaccine – such medicines contain a protective mechanism against multiple variants of the coronavirus.
«We might have vaccines that offer a wider range of protection by autumn next year,» predicts Dumpis.
The infectologist stresses that currently information is short on Omicron variant and risks associated with it. This is why it is difficult to say now if this variant is more contagious than the last. The same applies to the possible severity of infection it causes, because many residents are vaccinated. «We will see in a couple of weeks. It is clear, however, that no previous Covid-19 variant has spread as quickly as this one. Doubling is a few days – no Covid-19 variant before this one had a spread level like that,» said Dumpis.
Read also: Lithuania requires people infected with Omicron to self-isolate regardless of vaccination
The specialist also allows for the risk of Covid-19 spreading through animals, which also creates the risk of further mutations of the virus.
As for upcoming festivities, Dumpis suggested residents to carefully consider if it is worth meeting other people, considering the epidemiological situation. «Relatives can meet, but only if grandfathers and grandmothers are properly and fully vaccinated, preferably three times. I would advise avoiding parties. The virus has not gone anywhere – Omicron is in Latvia. I doubt we will see anything good in January and February,» said Dumpis.
As for life after 11 January, Dumpis said he hopes more could be done. At the same time, he expects Latvian authorities to learn from previous mistakes and respond appropriately when the situation deteriorates again.
«The most important thing is understanding when things start deteriorating and what measures need to be taken, not just to conclude there is no room left in hospitals,» says the specialist.
He allows that once more information is received about the Omicron variant, a situation may appear when the country will not be able open anything. Dumpis suggests the government needs to think about a well-organised re-vaccination process. «Booster shots are absolutely necessary to stay safe from Omicron,» stresses the specialist.
Dumpis urges residents to vaccinate for flu as well. He explained that vaccination for flu can be done together with Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, which is a common practice in other countries.